Wednesday, February 25, 2015

#119 The Mark of Water 8

The sun set and the moon rose, and Jill walked along the dry course of the river through the desert, seeking the south wind, though she did not know what to look for, nor exactly what to do once she had found it. How could she bind the wind with a thread? All around her the only sound was the hissing of sand, and starlight poured down from the depths of the sky.

When the moon stood nearly overhead Jill came to a place where one lone dune lay in the middle of a flat expanse. It seemed to shift in the wind, rising and falling as if with breath, and as Jill drew closer she could shapes in the blowing sand. Huge paws, a long, twitching tail, ears, nose, a mane of blowing sand, a great lion stretched before her, eyes closed, fitfully asleep.

Jill crept up to it. Even lying down, the thing towered over her. All made of sand, constantly shifting in hot air currents that whirled around it, the lion gave a great yawn, then rolled over and settled again, spraying Jill with a blast of sand and hot air.

Was this the south wind? It must be, but how was Jill to bind it?

Jill took the spool of thread in her hand and walked all around the south wind, not daring to touch it or to make a noise. At last she put out her hand to touch the very tip of its tail. The sand crumbled away in her fingers, then formed again into a tail shape with a wisp of wind. How could she bind something that was made only of sand and air?

Jill looked back the way she had come, thought of the water creature waiting for her, and wondered if perhaps she should go back and ask, but oh what a long weary walk that was. While she was here, she might as well try everything she could think of.

She unrolled some thread and let it fall at her feet, thinking perhaps to try tying it to the south wind’s tail, but as soon as the thread touched the tail, Jill felt a tug like a fish on a line, or a kite in the sky. The thread ran off the spool, pulled by the wind that shaped the lion of sand, and wrapped itself around and around, first the tail, then the hindquarters, then the body and shoulders and one of the legs. Jill saw the thread was almost out, so she quickly grabbed onto the end of it before it flew out of her hands. And there it was, the very end of the thread, but the lion’s head was still free, and so too one paw.

The lion raised its head, looked back at Jill, and roared.

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